Homicides are rising at a record pace in the United States. According to a recent FBI report, there were a total of 21,570 murders committed in 2020, the most of any year in the last two and a half decades and up nearly 30% from 2019 — the largest annual increase on record.
The spike in homicides came during a tumultuous year. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and left millions of Americans out of work. Footage of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer rattled confidence in American law enforcement and sparked nationwide protests. Firearms sales soared, and tens of millions of new guns proliferated across communities nationwide. Here is a look at the states where gun sales are surging.
Some experts speculate that each of these factors likely played a role in rising homicide rates nationwide. While it may be years before the precise causal factors are identified, many U.S. cities are bearing the brunt of the rash of deadly violence. In metropolitan areas across the country, the increase in homicides last year eclipsed the national surge — in some cases, many times over.
Rockford, Illinois, is one of many Midwestern cities to report a surge in homicides year over year. There were 36 murders in the metro area in 2020, an 80% increase from 2019. The homicide rate in Rockford now stands at 10.8 for every 100,000 people, well above the 6.5 per 100,000 national rate.
The metro area also reported a 30% increase in cases of aggravated assault last year, which drove a 21% increase in overall violent crime. Currently, Rockford’s violent crime rate of 771 incidents per 100,000 people is well above the national rate of 388 per 100,000.
All data in this story is at the metro area level from the FBI. Only metro areas with populations of at least 250,000 residents and at least one homicide in 2019 were considered.
|Rank||State||1-yr. change in reported murders (%)||Total murders in 2020||Murders per 100,000 people||Violent crimes per 100,000 people|
|1||Cedar Rapids, IA||500.0||12||4.4||251.9|
|2||Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL||225.0||26||6.9||475.9|
|5||Sioux Falls, SD||200.0||15||5.5||477.7|
|13||Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA||130.8||30||5.2||350.0|
|16||Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI||108.3||50||4.6||350.1|
|17||Shreveport-Bossier City, LA||107.3||85||21.6||683.0|
|18||Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA||100.0||12||4.4||357.1|
|21||College Station-Bryan, TX||100.0||10||3.7||298.0|
|29||New Haven-Milford, CT||75.0||49||6.1||256.3|
|30||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||73.9||40||5.4||286.8|
|36||Salt Lake City, UT||62.2||60||4.8||384.0|
|37||Green Bay, WI||60.0||8||2.5||225.0|
|47||Colorado Springs, CO||42.4||47||6.2||486.6|
|49||San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA||40.0||7||2.5||289.6|